ICP #172 | On spying through keyholes

So far this lockdown, we have had seven strangers in the house. All medical professionals.

The usual nurse can’t visit because she has flu-like symptoms and is having to quarantine. But she speaks to Dad on the phone. She says she thinks that he may have a pathological fracture.

I google it. It is a fracture caused by disease rather than by a fall or whatever. The first two diseases it mentions are osteoporosis and cancer. Tick tick.

The nurse says to call 999 so we do. We wait for the ambulance.

While we wait we discuss how a pathological fracture relates to being a pathological liar and surmise that for such a person, lying is like a disease.

Mum spots the ambulance first.

They have told us to shut any dogs away, so I take Alice and go into the kitchen. We crouch by the door. I watch through a small hole where a knot has been, just as my brother and I did when we were little – spying on visitors.

I see Mum waiting, silhouetted in the open front door. I see her greeting the paramedics. I hear them introduce themselves. They are both called Tim. Which under different circumstances, I might find kind of funny.

As I watch, Alice stares fixedly at a part of the door that you can’t see through. She’s not sure what’s going on but she thinks that probably it’s a game and rolls on her back as soon as I look at her.

They are upstairs for over an hour. I stand in the hall and strain to catch snippets of the conversation. But I retreat quickly when I hear them descend.

When they get to the front door, as they are about to leave and take Dad with them, I feel like I should go out, to say goodbye. But I don’t.

Under lockdown, you are not allowed to visit family members you do not live with, so my presence feels like a breach.

I don’t want the paramedics to see me and see that I’m in my thirties and paying rent thousands of miles away and that I obviously don’t live here.

Or perhaps I don’t want them to see that I’m wearing my childhood slippers and spying on grownups through a doorway.

I don’t want them to see that this is exactly where I live.



A version of this post was sent by email on the 29th March 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.

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